There are times when I receive an invite to a film of which I had no prior knowledge. In some cases, it can be a blessing. “Brooklyn,” which is currently playing in a handful of theaters, is just one example of that type of instance.
Set in the 1950s, Saoirse Ronan plays Ellis Lacey, an Irish immigrant who makes her way to Brooklyn to start a new chapter in her life. While there, she gets a new job and falls in love with a handsome Italian man named Tony (Emory Cohen). Life seems to be going well for Ellis, until an incident in her hometown requires her to come back to the place she left behind. And when she reunites with old friends and rekindles some old memories, Ellis has to decide whether she wants to stay in Ireland or return to Brooklyn.
As often as we see films with a similar scenario, “Brooklyn” succeeds in so many ways that we excuse the formula. Director John Crowley treats us to an old-fashioned love story to which many can relate. It disposes the saccharine approach taken by so many of the mainstream features today and, instead, grounds its story in reality. It’s like watching a classic film from the decade in which it’s set.
Of course, it also helps that both Ronan and Cohen have outstanding chemistry together. Really, none of the cast members here feel out of place. They’re all perfect for their respective roles, and they all work so well together. Some of the best moments include when Tony brings Ellis to a dinner with his family, and when Ellis chats with the other residents at the boarding house at which she stays. The dialogue not just in these scenes, but throughout the rest of the film, is smartly written, and there is a surprisingly ample amount of humorous moments.
Those who have experienced the difficult decision to move away from your hometown will understand the feelings Ellis has during the situations that take place. And Ronan delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as someone who’s lost, confused, and uncertain if she made the right decision. Even in a story set 60+ years ago, her character strikes a chord with the viewer and reminds us that no one is perfect, and life is bound to throw many curve balls at you no matter where you live and no matter what path you choose to take.
“Brooklyn” is one of the most beautiful-looking films I’ve seen this year. And that is due to its cinematographer, Yves Belanger, and its costume designer, Odile Dicks-Mireaux. Both put 100 percent effort in their positions and make “Brooklyn” a visually breathtaking feature.
November’s going to be crowded with the latest Bond installment, the final “Hunger Games” installment, and many other big films. But those who want to break away from all the big budget features and watch something that is more simple filmmaking, “Brooklyn” is the way to go. If it’s playing near you, go see it.